Here is a WTF of the evening for you: Microsoft copies an idea, admits to it and then patents it. To make the long story short, they essentially filed a patent claim for… Well, whatever BlueJ does. They implemented strikingly similar set of features in Visual Studio 2005, and someone decided to patent it at that point. I have to say that the side by side comparison of the two is very telling. You can hardly tell which application is which – they are almost identical.
If this patent gets granted then it will be one of the biggest embarrassments for the USPTO in a while. Not only that. It would also put the creators of BlueJ in a very strange legal situation.
For example MS could effectively halt BlueJ development if they wanted to by demanding some obscene licensing fee from them. The law would be on their side since they would have the patent, so BlueJ creators would have to seek legal defense or close the shop. Eventually, I believe they would win, but their legal expenses would probably be a hard thing to swallow for an educational open source project like this.
Big thanks to ZeWrestler for pointing me to this story. It’s fucked up.
It seems that thanks to the general outrage on slashdot, and rants of many angry bloggers Microsoft decided to remove the patent claim, and write it off as a “mistake”. How do you make mistakes like that? I mean how could they not know that this was a direct feature-by-feature reimplementation of BlueJ design?
Either this was intentional, or the whole patent claim submission process at Microsoft is a complete mess. In both cases it’s fucked up.
[tags]patents, software patents, bluej, microsoft, visual studio, wtf, microsoft and bluej[/tags]